12 May 2017
If you’ve yet to visit Croatia, expect exquisite architecture dating back centuries, picture-perfect beaches perched against the twinkling Adriatic, and sprawling forest areas made for hiking and exploring.
Croatia has over 1,000 islands, islets and reefs to discover so it’s a perfect spot for sunseekers and anyone hoping to unwind on glorious golden sands. History buffs, meanwhile, can wander through cities built on ancient Roman and Greek settlements, with some of the areas dating back to the 300 BC.
Lovers of the great outdoors can lace up their hiking boots to explore national parks, hop into sea kayaks to paddle the coast or head underwater on a scuba diving adventure, or even ski in the winter months. As Travel Counsellor Margot says, "If you are looking for natural beauty, history, architecture, great pizza, good beer and fantastic ice cream, then Croatia is the perfect place for you!"
Read on to discover five things to start your adventures through Croatia…
Plitvice Lakes National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia features 16 interconnected lakes, surrounded by dense woodland. Rushing waterfalls join the lakes, with the largest waterfall, Veliki Slap, measuring a huge 70m tall. You’ll find lots of flora and fauna here, with 157 species of bird, wild boar, and the brown bear.
You can join a sightseeing tour (from 2 – 3-hour tours to full-day tours) to explore this magnificent national park and there are hiking trails and cycling trails, too. Travel Counsellor Margot has visited Croatia four times and loves Plitvice Lakes National Park, "You can walk through different sections of the park enjoying the lovely scenery and crystal clear water. You decide how long or far you want to walk and there is even a boat ride on a lake. It is breathtakingly beautiful."
Can't get to Plitvice Lakes National Park? Margot suggests Krka National Park: "It is situated along the Krka River in Southern Croatia. It's known for a series of 7 waterfalls and is on a much smaller scale than Plitvice but still lovely for a short visit."
Zlatni Rat, Brač Island
With its bright blue waters, brilliant green pine groves and dazzling point of pristine white sands, this beach on Brač Island is a spectacular sight.
Known as the Golden Cape, the beach at Zlatni Rat is made up of tiny white pebbles and pristine sands, and it stretches 500m vertically into the sea.
Grand architecture, winding cobbled streets and the twinkling Adriatic Sea define the picturesque city of Dubrovnik. With a charming port and an Old Town that’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors can explore stunning buildings and the imposing walls surrounding the ancient city. Built in the 13th century, the views from the top are breathtaking.
A few other things to add to your Dubrovnik travel list? The Franciscan Monastery, originally built in 1317. Sponza Palace, built in the 16th century and now home to the Dubrovnik archive and an art gallery. And Stradun, at almost 300metres, it’s the longest street in Dubrovnik and dates back to the 13th century. As Travel Counsellor Graham, who visited in April says,"The views coming in to town are spectacular and being in places like the small port and small squares and long main street (Stradun) are utterly charming."
Medvednica National Park
Located close to Zagreb (pictured above), this national park is home to Mount Medvednica, a 1,000m mountain, and 20 archaeological sites, as well as stunning scenery and wildlife. As well as hiking and cycling trails, you can visit a castle, cave and a mine!
The medieval castle Medvedgrad was built in 1254 and has spectacular views of Zagreb. If you’re visiting in July, keep an eye out for the evening mountain concerts held here. The Zrinski mine was originally mined in the 1500s, closing in the mid-1600s, before being opened to the public in 2004 for underground tours. And the Veternica Cave is the sixth largest cave in Croatia, as well as a protected site. As well as fossils and the jaw of a cave bear, try to spot one of the 18 species of bat known to live here!
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old town of Trogir is a charming walled town with narrow cobbled streets and Baroque and Renaissance architecture, including the marvellous St Lawrence’s Cathedral. Add in the wide promenade on the seafront, and you have a magical place made for leisurely strolls peppered with stops to marvel at the buildings and gaze up and all around.
Trogir is a tiny island nestled between mainland Croatia and the island Čiovo, not far from Split, with bridges connecting Trogir to both the mainland and Čiovo. Travel Counsellor Steve visited Split, Zagreb and Brač Island on his trip to Croatia, and also added a day trip to Trogir: "We enjoyed a worthwhile day out to the medieval village of Trogir, a spetacular Greco-Roman influenced island with a fortress, palaces and churches in a very compact area."
Here, we’ve chosen five things to see and do in Croatia but there are many more spots to add to your trip list. Get in touch with your Travel Counsellor for further recommendations and to book your tailor-made holiday to Croatia.